A blogger I follow changed his Facebook cover photo with an interesting image. It is an image of an arid field with the question “Why Does God Hate the Bible Belt?” followed by a Bible verse – Matthew 7:22.
I was interested in what was meant by this so I looked up the verse. Here is the verse from the NIV version:
21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Can you imagine? The scariest thing for any Christian to face would be for God to tell them, “I never knew you.” What I find interesting is that this verse is in a chapter that I quote quite often to people I feel are judging others. Yes, I’m talking primarily about people who are anti-gay. I don’t intend to keep writing about this issue, but it keeps coming up. I also think that the way a society treats those who are in a minority says a lot about the people. Being on this side of the argument makes me believe that I would have also been on the right side of the slavery and civil rights struggles as well.
What I’m interested in focusing on is this chapter of the Bible. We’ll start with the beginning of the chapter:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
I use this verse a lot to show people that they should not be judging others. Many of them try to argue the point to me by saying that the verse says that they will be judged using the same standards as they are using. They say what they are doing is okay because they are not gay, so if the measure is applied to them they will be fine. I think these people aren’t really reading this verse. So I’ll break it down piece by piece.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
There’s not a lot of room for interpretation there. Do. Not. Judge. That’s God’s job…not ours. God is a very forgiving person. I imagine he is a lot more forgiving than the people out there doing their best to restrict the rights of homosexuals.
2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you
So, based on this verse, God is saying that he will apply the same harsh judgment to those who choose to judge others. I think I’d rather a forgiving and loving God judge my faults than any person on Earth. I think I’ll come out of that a little better off.
Now I’m not an expert on the Bible. I leave that to people who have dedicated their lives to the study of God’s word. One of these people is someone for whom I have a very profound respect. If you’ve read my earlier blogs, you might have read about him in my discussion of Ubuntu. Archbishop Desmond Tutu holds a Master of Theology, has been a prominent religious leader for decades, has recieved honorary doctorates from many universities around the world, and is a Noble Prize Laureate. I think that he can be deemed an expert in the field. Here are some of his thoughts.
The next section is all about an example of a person trying to take a speck from his brother’s eye when he has a plank in his own. This is where I think people are forgetting to read. Be mindful that this verse does not say, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a speck in your own eye?” It uses the word “plank.” It is not saying that the two problems are identical. Instead, it says that the person you are judging has a speck, and you have a different problem. It also uses sawdust and a plank…two things that are in the same category, but different. Much like sins.
Judgmental people like to talk about homosexuality being a sin, but they seem to forget their own. Have they told a lie? Are they guilty of pride? Taking the name of the Lord in vain? Coveting? Since none of us on Earth exists without sin, I think that this applies to our sins. How can you try to judge your brothers and sisters for their sins if you have your own to worry about? This isn’t even the first time Jesus mentioned this. Does the phrase “he who is without sin cast the first stone” ring a bell?
Also notice that he didn’t say anything about there being a hierarchy of sins. Assuming that one believes that homosexuality is a sin, where does it say that this sin is greater than any other? Greater than the lies we all tell? Oh, stop. You know you lie. A white lie is still a lie. Santa Clause doesn’t really exist no matter what you tell your children. This is no less a sin than homosexuality. I’ll repeat…there is no hierarchy of sins! Every sin is equal in the eyes of God…so why are you all focusing so intently on the sins of homosexuals? Is it maybe a prejudice that you hold? Saying that homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to get married is basically saying that someone who sins shouldn’t be allowed to marry. This includes anyone who lies, cheats, steals, fails to rest on the Sabbath, etc. This includes everyone I know…and everyone on Earth. According to this standard, marriage shouldn’t exist on Earth.
Here’s the part that should worry you (by you I mean the people who are anti-gay).
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.
Let’s look at this from each perspective (I made a cute little chart for you):
Take a second to look at the results of each decision. Notice a trend? There doesn’t seem to be any negative consequence to stop being judgmental and coexisting with others. However, if people like me are right, there could be disastrous consequences if you keep judging others sins. So explain to me why you keep working so hard against homosexuals? Or anyone? Why not just live peacefully? Welcome them if they come to you. If they ask…tell them how you feel. Only if they ask. Spread the word in a way that is welcoming and loving…not angry and judgmental. The rewards of coexistence is the Kingdom…the consequences of judgment is that you may hear those four little words that say so much…”I never knew you.”